Both sides have had plenty of time to celebrate smaller victories. Individual game wins against top-shelf opponents, milestones, clinching a playoff spot, and each win in the postseason including their respective conference championships.
Neither side has time to stop and look back with appreciation just yet though. The mission isn’t finished.
Back when Sean Murphy-Bunting arrived in a draft class including other contributors to this year’s successes like Jamel Dean and Devin White, Jenna Laine of ESPN got a video of Murphy-Bunting and White walking into their home stadium for the first time.
Still have this...the first time @DevinWhite__40 and @MrSeanyB1 ever took the field at @RJStadium, June 26, 2019. Devin was so excited, he asked if I could film it. You can hear him say, “We’re about to win a lot of games in here.”— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) February 1, 2021
Maybe a Super Bowl next? pic.twitter.com/3IKWh31yot
As Laine mentions, they talk about winning and winning a lot. In their first NFL season, they didn’t win all that much with the Buccaneers winning just seven of their games in 2019.
Now, however, they’ve won double that amount in 2020 alone.
During his Super Bowl media session, I asked Murphy-Bunting about whether or not he’s allowed himself to appreciate the journey thus far, even with one game - the biggest game - still to come.
“To be honest, man, I haven’t really sat down and really taken everything in. I’ve kind of been focused, I’ve had a really narrow view, a narrow vision. I’ve been really focused on just kind of, these past couple of weeks, of just how I can just continue to get better, and better, and better.”
Of course, this is the answer you want to hear from a young defensive back whose unit is about to go up against Patrick Mahomes II, Travis Kelce, and the Kansas City Chiefs offense for the second time this season.
If you put yourself in his position though, it would be easy to see how a player could get distracted by some of the extra things that come with playing for an NFL title. Murphy-Bunting actually pointed to his lack of larger than life football game experience as one reason he’s keeping his focus as sharp as he can.
“I’ve never been in this situation. You know, I’ve never been in any SEC Championships, any of that, any MAC Championship (or) anything. This is really my biggest championship when it comes to football, so that’s kind of all I’ve been focusing on is just playing in that game.”
That game is Super Bowl LV, and it’s coming up this Sunday as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Kansas City Chiefs one more time.
It’ll be the biggest game of Sean Murphy-Bunting’s football life, and his first chance to be called, ‘Champion’. Something not lost on him, and something he’s not taking for granted either.